Summer Job Diaries: Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles Law Clerk Advocates for Veterans' Rights
Folashade Akinola '23 is a rising second-year student who is working as a law clerk at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles’ Veterans Justice Center expanding upon the research skills she acquired during her 1L year while also developing new ones as she familiarizes herself with databases outside of Lexis and Westlaw.
How did you land your summer job?
During my 1L year, I served as a first-year representative on the Public Interest Law Foundation Board. Through this experience, I met a lot of like-minded 2L’s who gave me advice as I began my summer job search. I knew I wanted to apply to the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), so I connected with a friend who worked there last summer. He advised me to apply to the Veterans Justice Center workgroup. I took his advice and was able to land a phone interview. I used interview materials I found on Loyola’s Career Development Office website to prepare.
What is the most interesting part of your job?
The most interesting part of my job is conducting client intakes and interviews. My clients seek assistance to resolve legal issues concerning anything from VA benefits to housing. The individual representation allows me to not only gain experience in handling a variety of issues, but it also allows me to connect with our clients and hear their stories. The broad scope of services the Veterans Justice Center provides makes every day exciting.
What has been your most challenging assignment thus far?
The most challenging assignment thus far has been writing legal briefs for discharge upgrade applications. Though I have some experience writing legal briefs, I had to research and read countless samples to understand the format of briefs used in discharge upgrade applications. This challenge has undoubtedly refined and broadened my research and writing skills.
What new legal skill have you acquired during your summer job?
Working as a law clerk with the Veterans Justice Center has given me a better understanding of the VA’s regulations and policies. Before this summer, I had no experience in veterans justice, so researching cases in the Boards of Review Reading Rooms database is new to me. This opportunity has allowed me to build on the research skills I acquired during my 1L year while also developing new ones as I familiarize myself with databases outside of Lexis and Westlaw.
What bit of legal knowledge have you been able to display?
I have been able to display the knowledge I gained in classes like Civil Procedure and Legal Writing. Professor Levin’s Legal Writing class has helped me tremendously. I often refer to her class notes and PowerPoint presentations when writing a brief or memo.
How has Loyola helped you map your career path?
Loyola’s Career Development Office has been there every step of the way. Before I began applying for jobs, my career counselor, Rebecca Ruschell, met with me to go over my goals for the summer. Following our meeting, she reviewed my resumes. Through the Public Interest Law Foundation Board, I gained a mentor who gave me advice as I applied to public interest organizations in Los Angeles. As a Public Interest Scholar, I met Professor Sande Buhai, Director of Loyola’s Public Interest and Pro Bono Programs. She was also an incredible resource as I looked for summer funding. I cannot stress how helpful Loyola was as I navigated the complicated world of summer job applications